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Interdependent Actualisation – An Example from World War II

The extermination of millions of people in the concentration camps operated by the Nazi regime before and during World War II is known as The Holocaust. The concept of Interdependent Actualisation, that we are all interdependently connected with each other, is the polar opposite of the philosophy of Nazism, which had as its’ foundational bedrock the concept that the Aryan race was superior to all others.

he popular belief is that during the Nazi period Germans were Nazis. The German word for the collective sense of guilt about the actions of the Nazis is Vergangenheitsbewältigun. It is easy to paint all Germans as Nazis, but that is not at all the case.

Within the Yad Vashem, the memorial to Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, is the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. This is dedicated to non-Jews who stood up for the Jews, who challenged the authority of the Nazi regime, who were totally committed to the concept of Interdependent Actualisation. The movie Schindler’s List tells the story of one of these people, and in this blog I want to share about two others.

Lieutenant Albert Battel was in the Wehrmacht, or German Army, On July 6, 1942, the Gestapo attempted to enter the Jewish ghetto in the town of Przemysl in Poland in order to remove them to a concentration camp. Lieutenant Battel set up a roadblock and ordered the soldiers to prevent the Gestapo from crossing the only bridge into the ghetto. An unnamed sergeant threatened them with a machine gun, and temporarily prevented the Gestapo from coming across the bridge.

Battel went to his commanding officer, Major Max Leidtke, and together they organized a convoy of trucks, broke through a wall of the ghetto and evacuated over 100 Jews and their families. I can only imagine the emotions that must have been coursing through these two men and the soldiers with them as they rescued as many people as they could.

The Gestapo arrested them both, and conducted a secret investigation. Major Leidtke was transferred to the Russian front where he was killed in action. Lieutenant Battel was discharged from the army due to heart disease, but became a member of the Volksstrum, a civilian defense force, and was captured by the Russian army. Upon his release he was refused permission to return to his work as a lawyer as he had been a member of the Nazi party, and he died penniless in 1952.

These two men are an inspiration to me. They stood up to the most powerful force in their country in order to stand for their ideas, their commitment to something bigger than themselves. I am sure they were terrified, but they did not let that prevent them from taking a stand for others.

In our world today we are deeply polarized, split apart from each other. We do not at all practice the concepts behind Interdependent Actualization. I am convicted to act by the actions of these two men, and the other 27,919 people whose stories are just as powerful as that of Alfred Battel and Max Leidtke. As you read this, I hope you are convicted to act as well. Make Interdependent Actualization a reality, not just an idea.


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